Disclaimer: Is that really necessary? *All Autobots nod* ...*sighs* Fine, fine. Transformers belongs to Hasbro and will never be mine. T_T
Author's note: Guys put the guns down. Now! *All Autobots put their guns away* Phew. Crisis averted. Ok, I guess you thought I was dead. No I'm not, I just ...got ...distracted. By Animes. By Fairy Tail. by Skyrim and Darksiders 2 and by all the super cool Yandere Animes out there. (I just love it when a cute happy-go-lucky girl goes psycho on everyone. XD ) Sorry for the wait. I'll try to finish this story with chapter 10, ok?
By Misty Mina
It was not the first time he onlined but the first time when he felt so light and relaxed. Inferno felt like he could just float away. Like air, like time, ...like a fantasy. Well lately, reality hadn't been kind to him. Maybe he should enjoy this while it lasted.
That's when he noticed his friend besides him. Red Alert sat right next to him with a half guilty and half scared expression. It didn't suit him. Paranoid yes. Even mad as pit would be fine. Did something happen?
"Whaz up, Red?" Was it just him or did his voice sound really different? His accent wasn't usually that bad.
However his slur was forgotten when the other smiled slightly at his antics. Much better. Still not right but much better.
"Nothing Inferno. I'm... glad you're ok. I was...so worried."
Somehow, ...these words sounded different to the fire truck. As if Red was unsure how to act around him.
Well, on the other hand, he was not really in the right processor to judge his friend's behavior. This felt like the time when he almost got himself slagged by the Seeker Trine. In that time he'd been drifting between on- and offline. Not really sure what was real and what not.
"Iz ok. 'M fine. Nothin' Ratch' couldn' fix." Inferno hoped that the mentioned CMO wasn't anywhere near them. Or he might walk around with a dent on his helmet for a week or two for giving the grouchy medic a nickname.
"Speaking of Ratchet... what do you think of him?" Red Alert sure had strange questions today. But since he was still in one piece, it meant the medic wasn't within audio range. Now what to answer him?
"Iz tha greates' slagger on zha planet... But zha best medic in zha 'hole galaxy." Ok, that wasn't really what he'd wanted to say. Not that it wasn't true... Oh well, no use thinking about that now.
At first Red was shocked and yet, he seemed pleased with his answer.
"Good to know. Say Inferno, ...why did you..." The Lamborghini pressed his lip components together. As if not sure how to formulate his question.
"Why did you...quit? Just like that?" An accusation. A stab of personal hurt.
Oh right. Now he remembered. He'd quit his job. But he did it to protect him not to hurt him. Right?
"'Cause I couldn' protect cha... but zhat was tha impress cha!" Did that actually make sense? And how come he blurted things out like that?
Stunned into silence, the security director just stared at him. If the fire engine would have taken the time to think of his words, he might have phrased them better. Covered it up somehow. Or lied again...
Before Red could ask another question, Inferno started to blurt out his thoughts. Like they'd been occupying his hard drive for too long. A burden which had been ignored but not forgotten.
" Ah know 'm worth somethin'! Good 'nough fer cha! 'Cause yah chose meh, out o' zhem all, fer tha job." Frag, why couldn't he just mute his vocalizer? His processor kept telling him to shut up, but his lip components didn't obey. They were also not repeating the words he'd so carefully thought of for these kind of situations.
Red Alert put a servo on his shoulder joint to calm him down.
"I did,... didn't I? It means that you are good enough. I don't want anyone else! So why, ...why do you want 'him' back?" Was Red Alert confusing things now? Oh he was too tired to ponder over that.
Inferno's lip components were moving before his processor could catch up. Something inside him understood what exactly Red meant. The past he was chasing after. The other, who had looked out for him. When had he switched places with his charge? From protecting to being protected?
"He cares!" A simple answer for a simple question.
"'bout each an' everyone. ...Workin' day an' night tha keep uz all save an' soun'. Doin' more zhan Prime even. Neglectin' 'imself fer uz. ...Mah Red is... kind, protective, loyal ...loveable." Inferno wasn't sure if he said what he said or didn't. Maybe it was all in his processor and maybe Red wasn't really here.
Optimus was a good leader, but the truth was, he would never accomplish what Red Alert had been doing for all these stellar cycles for them since he'd joined the Autobots.
The smaller mech's optics lit up for a moment before they dimmed in understanding. He stroked lightly over the fire truck's helmet in a soothing manner, lulling him into recharge again. A movement his frame knew by spark and which had slipped his processor.
"...I see." It was faint, almost not audible, but it was still an admission of defeat.
Ratchet peeked cautiously around the corner. He was almost there. Wheeljack's lab wasn't so far away from his med bay. For the engineer's own good, of course. Sighing, he prepared himself to go in. The last explosion had been yesterday, but it had been unusually quiet since then. Much too quiet!
There weren't many things that could scare him. But being confronted with a new and probably unfinished invention from Wheeljack was just as terrifying as meeting Megatron in a dark hallway. If he had to choose, then Ratchet would prefer an encounter with the Decepticon leader. At least he knew what to expect, which couldn't be said for anything that came from his friend.
Just when Ratchet was about to move, the door to the lab opened. However, nobody entered or came out. Then the door slid close again. It didn't take a high-level processor to figure this one out. There was only one Autobot in the whole base, who could come and go as he pleased.
The Spy in Wheeljack's lab? Normally he would avoid that place. Too dirty and perhaps too dangerous for the Noble. Ratchet had to find out what was going on! Those two alone. That thought didn't sit well with him.
Making up his processor, he practically stomped to the door. When it opened, he saw his friend and the, now visible, Towers mech standing close to each other. For some reason this really got to him.
"Am I interrupting something?" He grumbled.
Startled they turned to look at him. Wheeljack held something small in his servos. Now the medic felt a bit silly for his unreasonable anger. Perhaps it was an upgrade for the Noble. It seemed the engineer hadn't even noticed his best friend's mood, but Mirage had this knowing look in his amber-colored optics.
"Nope, I've been waiting for you. I just needed Mirage's opinion on this." Wheeljack held up the small item.
Now this caught Ratchet's interest as well. It was obviously not one of Wheeljack's projects. The Lancia didn't have the fine motor skills to make something so small. He would always give the blueprints to Perceptor, who made double sure that the invention was save enough before he would get to work on it.
"What is that?" Ratchet asked while he came closer.
To him it looked like a tiny cube. He was sure he'd seen this item before. Just where?
"This is a device to process Zetta Bytes and keep them for later use."
Wheeljack's explanation was hard to follow. He tended to turn easy things into complicated matters. Thankfully Mirage knew what the engineer was talking about.
"It's a hard drive."
This stunned the medic. Their own internal hard drives were large, no external device could keep up with that. For the cybertronian kind, these things were comparable to human voice recorders. It made sense for organics to have those things, but for them, this was even more useless than a toy for a sparkling.
"Why would anyone need a private, external hard drive?" Ratchet mused.
Mirage chuckled lightly in his own educated way.
"Nobles often had these devices. Apparently, some couldn't be 'bothered' with too much information. So to keep their own hard drives manageable and clean, they simply came up with these external hard drives. They're like data pads with a big core memory." Mirage knew that most of his own people had merely been showing off with these things. The cubes were made of expensive materials and only Nobles could afford them.
Wheeljack went to his desk and connected the hard drive with his own computer. If there were any viruses, then his computer would find them even before Teletran 1. ...Or at least it was supposed to do that.
"Say Wheeljack, where you testing this yesterday when your scanners exploded?" Ratchet just had to ask.
"Uh huh. That's what I was talking about. ...You know, the thing inside Red Alert's data pad?
The medic had to recall their discussion and yes, Wheeljack had mentioned something like that. But at that time he was too angry and distracted to think about the other's words. So, this small thing was inside the data pad.
The computer gave a few beeps, indicating that no virus had been found.
"Pick a file and open it!" Trust the medic to have no inhibitions whatsoever.
Wheeljack wasn't sure if this was the right thing to do.
"Ratchet, ...we should tell Red about this first." It was tempting, but at the same time it felt like intruding on Red's privacy. Or reading someone's journal pad. It felt wrong to open these files without the Lamborghini's consent.
The CMO snorted in disdain.
"Good idea! We go and ask him, if we can open the files on a hard drive which he doesn't even know about."
"It's his data pad and his cube after all..."
"So? It's only in his best interest!"
Through their bickering, the spy had been ignored and forgotten. That was until he decided to speak up.
"If I may interrupt?"
Both turned towards the Noble, only realizing now that they hadn't been alone. Seeing he had their full attention, Mirage told them what should have been obvious in the first place.
"You will have to inform Red Alert, one way or another. Because, since the current Red hadn't discovered the cube and knowing our 'old' security director, I would say these files are coded anyway." He just couldn't suppress a sly smirk.
Was it just them or did this feel like being hit by a ton of bricks? Mirage had a point there. But Ratchet wouldn't be the stubborn medic he was if he wouldn't at least try to prove him wrong.
"We'll see about that. Wheeljack, open a file!"
The engineer looked a bit lost. Should he listen to his friend or comm. Red Alert first? The grouchy medic's patience was wearing thin.
" 'Jack, don't force me to order you around!" As Chief Medical Officer he was in rank clearly above the engineer. The only ones higher than Ratchet in the chain of command were Jazz, Prowl and Prime himself.
Defeated by rank, the Lancia complied reluctantly. The file opened, but what came out was what one expected, one hoped wouldn't show and one was unsure about. The numbers and glyphs of the code were gibberish to them.
The CMO felt the urge to pull out his antenna.
Damn Red Alert and his paranoia. Mirage was right as usual, yet the spy didn't really look too smug about it. However, as member of the special ops team, the blue and white mech knew partly what to look for in a coded file.
"This is definitely a security code and if I remember correctly, numbers overlapping the glyphs means it's a map or card file."
What all three failed to notice was the fourth mech among them.
"...It's a layout plan of the Ark's hidden security cameras."
Red Alert was right behind them and his processor had automatically decoded the plan on the monitor. What was going on? Were did they get the files of the Ark's security system? All he wanted was to tell Ratchet that he was done. With everything and nothing at the same time. He had accomplished something and yet it wasn't what he expected.
Ratchet did a metaphorical reset. Again he got his hopes up for nothing. The paranoid Red had stored his security files on that cube and hid it within the data pad for safekeeping. Clever, if not a bit overdone and useless. The CMO doubted that Red's potential successor, would' have found the small thing or even known what it was.
Thinking about it now, if those cameras were hidden, wouldn't that mean Red Alert had to download the plan from his own memory core? He sure as pit wouldn't have told anyone such important things. Not even Inferno. Ratchet's head snapped up. He turned to the spy, who thankfully was still in the room and didn't take the security's director's appearance as his cue to leave like he usually would.
"Mirage! Do you know how these cubes work? Uplink? Programm? Auto?" The urgency in the medic's voice didn't slip the Noble's attention.
"The very first models had to be programmed, but it didn't take long and they were out of fashion. The next generation was easier to handle with an uplink. We threw the old ones out with the trash."
Wheeljack could slightly follow his friend's trail of data. The only way Red could have gotten hold of such an expensive toy was if the Tower's Nobles had thrown it out. It would mean that this was a first generation model. So what? Red wouldn't be the first garbage mech who made it into the higher Autobot ranks.
The Lamborghini was confused. Here was a plan of the Ark, a cube as it's source and three mechs who were talking in riddles.
"What are you talking about?" He really wanted to know!
Ratchet stepped away from the computer to make space for the smaller bot.
"Red, do yourself a favor and encode all of these files."
He had to blink once, ...twice and yes the medic was still looking at him expectantly. He was serious! A favor? For himself? What kind of favor was that? A quick glance at the monitor told him the amount of data he had to encode.
"...This would take cycles." A long, very long time indeed.
Ratchet knew no mercy, neither with the Cons nor with his own patients.
"Then I suggest you get your gears going. Now! And Mirage you...Mirage?" True to his designation, not a trace of the spy or that he'd been in the room just a second ago had been left. Ratchet hated it when he did that.
"Grrr, fine! I'll do that myself then!" With that the medic stomped up to the door. Wheeljack felt a bit left out. A data storm had taken place in Ratchet's processor and he wanted to hear what it was about. His fins lit up in confused white when he held the CMO back.
"Uhm, Ratchet, what's up? Where are you going?"
"I go get a few files and the Terror Twins. You keep an optic on Red and make sure he's busy decoding everything! I'll be back later."
With that the CMO left the lab, leaving a dumbfounded engineer and a stressed and unhappy security director behind.
After a long time of searching through Teletran 1 and the historical data of Cybertron, Ratchet had found what he was looking for. If everything went well, they'd have not only their old security director back, but the twins would have a part of their family back as well. And of course, Inferno would have his charge back.
In the medic's optics, the fire engine was a foolish afthead and thankfully a persistent one. Granted, if the red mech hadn't been so stubbornly clinging onto the past, then maybe this whole fiasco wouldn't have happened. But many important facts would have slipped their attention as well.
Perhaps Primus had listened to Inferno's prayers.
The only thing left to do was to gather the information in one neat package. In the end, he could only tell them what he'd found out. The rest was up to them. But mostly to Red Alert.
To go back to his old ways, or to continue on a new path. Whatever he would choose, they'd have to accept his decision. Even if that meant that some doors wouldn't ever be opened and the secrets behind them would be forgotten forever.
I hope there are still readers left. If not, I'm to blame I know. ^^ Mina gets easily distracted by new things. Sorry. T.T